A survey conducted in six states of India shows the hardships faced by pregnant women in rural areas. According to its findings, less than half of pregnant women in rural India have access to quality healthcare and nutritious food. Moreover, the survey also shows that only around one in three rural pregnant women has received the Rs 6,000 maternity benefit announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi three years ago.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  •  Only 31 percent pregnant women in rural India ate more nutritious food during their pregnancy.
  • 63 percent women said that they were working upto the day of delivery.
  • Only 23 percent of nursing mothers received any benefit from the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna.
  • Only 22 percent of pregnant women got the money they are entitled to under PMMVY.

About The Survey

The Jachcha-Baccha Survey (JABS) was conducted by economist Jean Dreze, honorary professor at the Delhi School of Economics and Reetika Khera, associate professor at IIM Ahmedabad. The survey was conducted in six states – Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The survey was conducted in June.

The researchers interviewed 706 women. Among these were 342 pregnant women and 364 nursing mothers who had given birth in the last six months. For each of the six states, researchers chose 10-12 anganwadis. Each village that they went to had a population between 800-1200. The population included a strong tribal and Dalit presence.

The survey showed how nursing and pregnant women, are acutely deprived of quality health care. While many of them receive basic services like tetanus injections and iron tablets at the local health center, they get very little beyond these.

Findings: Pregnant Women’s Nutrition and Rest

Pregnancy means that the body needs more nutrition and rest. However, for women across rural India, this isn’t the case. “We were shocked to find how little attention was paid… to the special needs of pregnancy—good food, extra rest and health care. Often, family members or even women themselves had little awareness of these special needs,” wrote Khera and Drèze.

Only 22 percent of nursing women reported that they had been eating more than usual. Just a mere 31 percent said that they had been eating more nutritious food during their pregnancy. The survey showed that many women feel unwell during their pregnancy, or lose appetite. As a result, they don’t eat well.  In all, less than half of the women interviewed said that they ate nutritious food during pregnancy. This dropped to 12 percent in Uttar Pradesh. “Poor diets lead to low weight gain during pregnancy. Compared with a norm of 13-18 kg for women with low BMI, the average weight gain in the sample was barely 7 kg (in UP, just 4 kg),” said Reetika Khera. 48 percent of pregnant women and 39 percent of nursing women in UP did not know whether they had gained weight during pregnancy.

READ ALSO: Study Reveals 75% Of Women Don’t Have Healthy Weight During Pregnancy 

When it came to rest, an overwhelming majority of pregnant women (63 percent) say that they had been working up to the day of delivery. 29 percent of the respondents say there was no one to help them with household chores. Due to the lack of rest and proper food, these pregnant women tended to experience symptoms of fatigue. 41percent reported swelling of feet and 17 percent reported impairment of daylight vision.

Access To Quality Healthcare

The survey showed how nursing and pregnant women, are acutely deprived of quality health care. While many of them receive basic services like tetanus injections and iron tablets at the local health center, they get very little beyond these.

The researchers interviewed 706 women. Among these were 342 pregnant women and 364 nursing mothers who had given birth in the last six months. For each of the six states, researchers chose 10-12 anganwadis.

The survey also researched the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna, launched in 2016. It found that only 23 percent of nursing mothers had received any benefit under the programme. The PMVVY also goes against the provisions listed by the National Food Security Act, according to the survey. “In violation of the act, PMVVY restricts benefits to one child per woman,” the researchers said. The benefits have also been arbitrarily reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,000.

Moreover, the application process is lengthy and difficult, according to the survey. The entire application process is online. “These problems are compounded by the Aadhaar payment system. Using data obtained through an RTI, we estimate that in 2018-19, only 22 percent of pregnant women got any PMMVY money,” said Khera.

READ ALSO: How Air Pollution Affects Pregnancy 

Pic Credit: Dailymail

Prapti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV

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